All posts filed under: Reviews

The Economics of Imperialism

by Philip Roddis, via Steel City Scribblings The most important book I’ve read in years is John Smith’s Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Super-Exploitation and Capitalism’s Final Crisis. Here’s an abridged extract from its opening words: The collapse of Rana Plaza, an eight-story building housing textile factories, a bank and shops in an industrial district north of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, on 24 April 2013, killing 1,133 garment workers and wounding 2,500, was one of the worst workplace disasters in history. This disaster, and workers’ grief, rage, and demands for justice, stirred sympathy and solidarity from working people around the world— and a frantic damage-limitation exercise by the giant corporations that rely on Bangladeshi factories for their products yet deny any responsibility for the atrocious wages, living, and working conditions of those who produce all their stuff. Adding to the sense of outrage is the fact that, the day before, cracks had opened in the building’s structure. An initial inspection resulted in its evacuation and a recommendation that it remain closed. Next morning a bank and …

Adam Curtis: another manager of perceptions

by Jonathan Cook Adam Curtis’ new, near three-hour documentary HyperNormalisation, showing on BBC iplayer, is being garlanded with predictable praise from liberal commentators. As ever, Curtis joins the dots in interesting, and sometimes compelling, ways. But HyperNormalisation also continues a trend by Curtis of using his insights to present a deeply conservative, disempowering and ultimately false impression of the world. His recent films have been premised on the notion that our societies are driven almost exclusively by a struggle of ever-more complex ideas, often dangerous ones, and only marginally by economic forces. As it has become ever harder to find plausible solutions to an increasingly inter-connected world, and as western leaders have become ever more lost in the moral and ideological darkness of modern life, those who have excelled are the usual suspects – from Syria’s Assad and Putin’s Russia to Donald Trump. HyperNormalisation is best when it deals with “perception management”. The west’s repeated reinventions of Libya’s Col Gaddafi – first as a bogeyman, then as a hero, then as a bogeyman again, depending …